Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2015/ Federal Election 2015

Federal Election 2015

I can't do this. I am not going to be able to make it through this election cycle.

Anybody who reads my blog knows that I get obsessive around elections, and it has gotten to the point where it's causing real damage in my life. Now Stephen Harper is stretching the election campaign to 11 weeks. That's almost three months of campaigning. We don't need 11 weeks of campaigning. What are the parties going to accomplish in 11 weeks of campaigning that they would not accomplish in five or six?

Thanks to personal circumstance and the Fair Elections Act, I may not even be able to vote in this election.

Already I am obsessing, and already I am outraged. I am really upset about the gamesmanship Stephen Harper is playing with federal election debates, and I am furious that (once again) the Green Party (and the Bloc Quebecois, and even the splinter Strength in Democracy party) are being locked out of many of the debates. The Consortium finally let Elizabeth May in, and then Harper opted out. Now Mulcair is following Harper's lead. Why do we have to have this discussion every single election? Why do the criteria for participating in these debates shift every single time the Greens look like they might qualify under the criteria used to lock them out the previous election? I am sick and tired of this. I am especially angry with the Globe and Mail and Google, both of whom should know better. Maybe there are ways to pressure these organizations into letting the Greens and Bloc and Strength in Democracy parties in:

I am really angry that the Conservatives are allowed to control the framing around so many issues. The Conservatives decide they don't want to participate in the Consortium debates, and now the NDP is following suit (!?).

I am particularly upset with the Liberals. They voted for Bill C-51. Supposedly they did not vote for Bill C-51 because they supported C-51, but because they didn't want to look weak on security. Either they really did support C-51 -- in which case they are lying -- or they really were concerned about their image, in which case they are caving into the Conservative framing of this issue, and hoping that by giving into Conservative bully tactics the Conservatives won't bully them any more. News flash: that doesn't work.

Trudeau is making lots of noises about taking questions on the campaign trail, but he was not taking questions during pre-election events. Now Mulcair is not taking questions either. Both of them are following Conservative tactics, and I cannot figure out why.

I am furious about how the Conservatives have undermined our democracy. The rule of thumb is that they are out to win at any cost, legal or otherwise. Harper skipping debates is not a new tactic; local Conservative candidates have been skipping all-candidates meetings for several elections now, and they will probably continue doing so. Their elected MPs send out reams and reams of advertising materials all year long touting the "Conservative government of Canada" and then Harper has the audacity to say that he wants to call an election early so that other parties do not abuse federal funds. They muzzle scientists because they are obsessed with controlling their political messages at any cost.

I am furious that the robocall scandal did not stick. Even if you accept the watered-down version of the scandal where only Guelph was affected (which I do not, because Elections Canada received complaints from around the country), Michael Sona was a known quantity in the Conservative party. He was already known as a troublemaker; several witnesses alleged that he tried to grab a ballot box at a University of Guelph polling station. Yet he was allowed to continue working for the Conservatives. In my opinion, this was not an oversight and this was not an accident. Sona is part of an antidemocratic culture that pervades the Conservative Party of Canada. But he was portrayed as a lone wolf black sheep, and once he was thrown under the bus the scandal went away.

I am upset that there will be other unsportsmanlike tactics used in this election campaign, just as there have been for the past decade. I am furious that the other parties are following suit.

I am angry that there are no good alternatives to vote for in this election. If the NDP and Liberals both do well then the vote will be split, and the Conservatives win. Neither the NDP nor the Liberals have demonstrated that they are worth voting for, although it is arguable that either party would be less bad than the Conservatives have been. But I am angry that neither party is going out of its way to show any ethical backbone.

I am disappointed that the NDP is betraying its principles now that it thinks it could form the government. The NDP has traditionally been in support of proportional representation, but -- surprise surprise -- Mulcair is suspiciously silent about including all federal leaders in federal election debates, which would be routine under proportional representation. My guess is that the NDP feels threatened by the Greens on one side and the Bloc/Strength in Democracy parties on the other, and that Mulcair's will remain suspiciously silent on proportional representation if his party wins.

I am disappointed that the Liberals have shed any pretenses they had of listening to Canadians or of changing their party from within. Justin Trudeau's ascendence to the Liberal leadership was not a race; it was a coronation. Locally, a number of good candidates from outside the Big Liberal Machine ran for nomination, and every one of them was crushed by the establishment.

I am disappointed but not surprised that a vote for the local Greens will be a completely wasted vote in this election. I think Elizabeth May has done an excellent job as an MP and party leader over the past five years, but I do not know that she will win any additional seats because of it. The Greens are in real danger of becoming irrelevant once she quits as leader.

I know all these words make it sound as if I am super-enthusiastic and super-engaged in this election, but inside this election feels like a toxin. I hate the horserace. I cannot afford to spend several hours a day reading election coverage and worrying about the results. I already know that all the other players in this spectacle treat it as a game, and I wish I could as well, but although all of this is engaging it isn't entertaining. It's not a game.

Political decisions have consequences:

We are paying for these decisions, and will continue paying for them for years. This election is important, but probably not as important as it could be, given the alternatives. Regardless, I don't want to deal with this election and I don't think I can make it through intact.

In some ways I despise the Vote Together initiative, and I am pretty sure I do not want to sign their authoritarian pledge. But if their suggestions mean I don't have to spend much time deciding between holding my nose and voting NDP or holding my nose and voting Liberal (or holding my nose and declining my ballot, I guess) then maybe I will just play along with them.